Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Keefer’s Island plans grand opening Thursday

William and Eldora Keefer and their children in the early 20th century. Twins Fred and Frank are on either side of their parents. (Photo courtesy Museum of Idaho)
When the crew at the Shilo Inn were looking for a new name for their catering business, all it took was a look out the window, where Keefer’s Island sits right in the middle of the Snake River.

Formerly O’Callahan’s, Keefer’s Island Restaurant and Catering will be having its grand opening Thursday, starting with a ribbon cutting by the Greater Idaho Falls Chamber Ambassadors at 10 a.m.

Complimentary breakfast Danishes and beverages will be served.

In the evening at 6, there will be Champagne, hors d’oeuvres, dinner and drink specials, and live music by Happyville (the band in which I play guitar, if you don’t know that already.) For the historically minded, there will be a display of items from the Keefer Family Collection, provided by the Museum of Idaho.

The Keefers were one of the most important families in Idaho Falls’ history. William W. Keefer came to town with the Utah & Northern Railroad, and once the bridge and shops were built he decided to stay. With a developer's eye, he began buying real estate.

Keefer was a builder and a brewer, and his most lasting impact may have been on the Snake River itself. In 1909, he and his twin sons, Fred and Frank, built a dam and retaining wall north of Broadway, creating the actual falls and providing water for hydropower generation.

Fred and Frank were the most colorful of William and Eldora Keefer’s seven children, and it was Fred who filed a mineral claim on the island in the Snake below John’s Hole, then built a cabin. In 1962, he deeded it to the city of Idaho Falls on condition that the cabin stayed and that the island be called Keefer’s Island.

The menu features American cuisine, new and traditional, burgers, seafood and southern-style cuisine. Breakfast, brunch and buffets are served, and its hours are 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily. The lounge is open until 1 a.m.

For more information, call 523-1818. For catering, 523-4318.